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Patriots Crush Colts and Advance to Super Bowl Against Seahawks
By SP_COP on January 18, 2015 | From www.nytimes.com
Patriots Crush Colts and Advance to Super Bowl Against Seahawks Throughout the first half of Sunday’s A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, the Gillette Stadium crowd roared its approval whenever the referee announced that one of the Patriots’ offensive linemen was eligible for pass-catching duties.

A week earlier, in the Patriots’ divisional round playoff victory against Baltimore, Coach Bill Belichick’s crafty choreography of eligible and ineligible linemen had been labeled “deceptive” by Ravens Coach John Harbaugh.

Most of the rest of the N.F.L. took it as another example of Belichick’s sly genius.

In the third quarter Sunday, the Patriots had a 10-point lead on a young, plucky Colts team. Before a third-down play, once again, left tackle Nate Solder reported as an eligible receiver. But the announcements were getting monotonous. By then, even the home crowd barely noticed.

The Colts certainly did not seem to pay attention. They left Solder uncovered when he ran into the left flat and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady.

“I thought it was a good call,” Solder said. “I was ready for it. It’s all a blur for me now, but I knew I could catch it.”

As Solder was rumbling toward the end zone, Brady was jumping up and down behind the play like a kid whose new toy had surprisingly worked as planned. On the sideline, even Belichick cracked the thinnest of smiles.

“Nate did a good job in tough, rainy conditions,” Brady said. “And then we ran past two guys to get it in there. I don’t know, maybe we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve.”

Solder’s touchdown became the symbolic tipping point in the Patriots’ 45-7 thrashing of the Colts, a victory that will send New England to the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1 in Arizona.

It will be New England’s eighth trip to the Super Bowl, tying the Patriots with Dallas and Pittsburgh for most appearances.

“If you’re going to the Super Bowl, you know you’re going to play a good team,” Belichick said. “So we’ll get ready for that challenge.”

Sunday’s victory is also the sixth conference championship for Brady and Belichick, a record for a coach-and-quarterback tandem. Brady’s six conference championships are also the most for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. John Elway won five with Denver.

After two consecutive losses in the A.F.C. championship game, New England, which was making its fourth successive appearance in the conference championship, made easy work of the Colts.

After Solder’s touchdown, the Patriots scored a touchdown on each of their next three possessions. Brady, who was starting his ninth conference championship game, threw a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Running back LeGarrette Blount burst through the middle of the line for 13 yards, tumbling into the end zone. Early in the fourth quarter, Blount charged over the goal line from 2 yards away for a 45-7 New England lead. It was Blount’s third rushing touchdown of the game to go with 148 yards on 30 carries.
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Last season, the Patriots routed the Colts, 43-22, in a divisional round game....
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